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New York Embraces .NET

VSLive! New York keynote speaker highlights New York City’s .NET and open source development efforts.

New York City is stepping up its .NET development efforts, but at the same time it's moving aggressively to expand the use of open source technology, according to the city's top IT official.

Paul Cosgrave, commissioner of the New York Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) describes his agency's efforts to deliver both a centralized, shared infrastructure, while providing flexibility to the 100-plus agencies it supports. Cosgrave, appointed two years ago by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, outlined the City's software development initiatives during the opening keynote of last month's VSLive! New York conference held in Brooklyn.

New to .NET
The City's central-services infrastructure has long been built on mainframe and Java-based development, Cosgrave said in a follow-up interview. He doesn't see that changing. However, a growing number of agencies -- such as the Department of Environmental Protection -- are heavily engaged with .NET dev projects.

"We're finding it easier in many ways to build in the .NET world than the Java world, so we're expanding our use of Microsoft," Cosgrave says. The large number of .NET developers and improvements to the .NET Framework are among the factors driving the shift.

"I think there was a tendency to believe that we needed to be in the Unix-Java world to build robust things, and we're now realizing we can do that in the .NET world as well. And it's easier to build in the .NET world," Cosgrave explains.

Because the city is developing a service-oriented architecture (SOA), the ability to interact should be less of an issue, he says. However, Cosgrave admits the SOA effort-based primarily on BEA and WebLogic message busses -- is still in an early phase of evolution.

"As long as the technologies are compatible with more of a data-sharing model or a SOA-type of model we're trying to build, we'll be fine," he says. "With .NET we just want it to be compatible with our SOA direction."

Open Source Lab
Cosgrave points to a new agreement by the City University of New York (CUNY), Intel Corp. and Red Hat Inc. to establish the New York City Open Source Solutions Lab.

Cosgrave says the center will work as a test facility for open source solutions: "It's really to look at open software in new ways. We've been using Linux on our mainframe environment for quite some time and we have some Unix-developed systems that are being migrated to Linux, so we have a lot of interest in Linux as an operating system."

Software Development and .NET

New York's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Paul Cosgrave talks up service-oriented architecture (SOA), Java and .NET.

Q: How would you characterize where you are at with SOA today?
A: We've been working in the SOA world for almost two years. We have a major offering that we provide the city agency called Data Share, which allows agencies to access one another's data without having to rewrite systems entirely, but rather just use various Web services.

I'd say we're at the middle stage of phase two. Phase one was just building the ETL-type services, and now we're enhancing it more. But we're still in the early stages.

Q: What's the basic platform?
A: We've worked with BEA and WebLogic.

Q: Where has Microsoft fit in that picture?
A: It's interesting: The central organization has been more of a Java shop, so we haven't done a lot of development in the .NET world. However, many of the smaller agencies have, and now we're building up a .NET group as well, so it's growing.

Q: What changed?
A: People's knowledge. We're also heavy desktop users of Windows and Office, and more and more some of the collaboration tools.

Q: What's your take on all the buzz about cloud-based services?
A: I'd put that in the category of things we're tracking but not making any moves in that direction.

Q: It's interesting that your .NET development is increasing, yet you're also focusing more on doing open source. How do you see that playing out?
A: To a large extent, we allow the agencies to do what's in their best interest. We're moving more toward what I would characterize as an enterprise-architecture type of structure, but it's pretty obvious that there's a cost of swinging one way or the other.

Q: The architecture plan will ensure .NET and SOA compatibility?
A: Yes, but I must say we're in the early stages of that -- we're not where we need to be. It's a high priority, but we're moving in that direction.

Q: How much do you see development shifting to .NET?
A: It'll depend in some cases on individual preferences. In our own organization we're more Java-oriented, and we probably won't shift as quickly. I think the larger agencies will probably be more focused on Java and even traditional mainframe techniques, while smaller agencies will be more interested in doing .NET just because they can train their workforces quicker.

-- J.S.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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